Intriguing contest looming at Australian PGA

BY Bruce Young | Australasian PGA Tour | 2002 Australian PGA Championship | 26 Nov 2002
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For the first time since the demise of the Schweppes Coolum Classic in December 1999, tournament golf returns to the Hyatt Coolum Resort on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast this week for the Australian PGA Championship. In 1999 Nick O’Hern won the Schweppes Classic but his form in recent times has him as one of the less likely this week, especially with the emergence of so many exciting young Australasians.

A field that includes Greg Norman, John Daly, Stuart Appleby, Aaron Baddeley, Craig Parry, Adam Scott, Phil Tataurangi, Peter Lonard, Gavin Coles, Geoff Ogilvy, Greg Chalmers, John Senden, Peter O’Malley, Rod Pampling and plenty more.

The Hyatt Coolum course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr, is a course that demands accuracy from the tee and one where water often comes into play especially through the back nine. In fact water is a factor on seven of the last nine holes, The greens here are bermuda but they are of high quality and given modern maintenance procedures, the grain which has often been the bane of many not familiar with bermuda, is not the factor it was previously. Grain is essentially the broader leaf of warm season grasses influencing the roll and direction of the ball. This type of grass grows towards the setting sun and the grain is, in layman’s terms, the way the grass leans. It is also influenced by water run off. That becomes a factor in reading greens and when grain is at its worst, it takes some skill to read them accurately.

As indicated earlier, a very good field has been assembled and a look back at previous events here, despite them being some time ago, may assist in sorting out a potential winner. Nick O’Hern’s win in 1999 was at the expense of West Australian Wayne Smith. A win for either of them would be a surprise, given current form. One of the players tied in third place that year may offer a possibility that being Brisbane’s John Senden. Senden has returned from a highly successful debut year in the US and is clearly at home on these surfaces. John is seldom a winner but his game has progressed markedly in the last twelve months. He played solidly at the Open and don’t be surprised if he is there or thereabouts.

In 1998 Stuart Appleby won in an emotional victory having lost his wife Renay, just a few months earlier. Craig Spence was second and Craig Parry third. Spence is struggling with his game but Parry will be one of the favourites and deservedly so. Not only did he finish third here but he won in 1997 so following his second last week at the Open he is the man.

In 1997 Parry as mentioned beat Robert Allenby who will be elsewhere this week.

There are many who will figure this week, most already mentioned, but it is clear that we will see once again this week the emergence of the young players that are becoming such a feature of Australian golf of late. Other players such as Adam Crawford, Chris Downes, a rejuvinated Wayne Grady, Terry Price and Craig Jones amongst others may also figure.

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    About the Author: Bruce Young

    A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of the game comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.


    Read all of Bruce's articles »

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